There was always a moment when I willed my body to shift that I regretted it. It was excruciating. For the few seconds it took for the transformation to take place, I saw nothing but white-hot fire. Felt nothing but searing heat as every molecule in my body rearranged itself. I heard nothing but my own pitiful sobs. Smelt nothing.
Then it was over, and I was considerably smaller and buried in a pile of my own clothes. The advantage of shifting to a smaller form was that I didn’t need to undress first. Unlike Isaac. He was still in his human form, staring down at me. I danced from foot to foot, impatiently chittering at him. I was desperate to climb up into the trees and swing from branch to branch.
“Turn around,” he said.
Rather than turning around, I put my tiny hands over my large eyes. I was good and didn’t peek as Isaac undressed, even though it was tempting. While he shifted, he didn’t sob, as I had done, but he did let out a wretched moan which morphed into a growl. Only then did I lower my hands. His tiger form was huge. He padded over and stared down at me. His incisors were easily as big as my head, and I realised that if he gave in completely to his animal side, he’d eat me up for breakfast. He turned his head to the side in a swift gesture, which I took as permission to go.
I scrambled up into the trees, my hands and feet deftly gripping the trunk. I paused and studied Isaac’s tiger form. Now that his teeth and claws were well away from me, it was easier to appreciate how stunning he was. He was long and sleek, with thick black stripes breaking up his rusty orange fur. He looked up at me, his pale green eyes searching mine. He had to be wondering why I’d stopped to stare at him. Did he know how beautiful he was?
I let out an excited screech and tore off through the foliage. My long tail provided balance as I scampered along branches and then leapt from one tree to the next. Isaac ran along beneath me—beautiful, powerful, and graceful. He easily kept pace with my aerial antics.
My tiny heart beat wildly, and I felt completely and utterly free. It was so much better than being stuck on the bus. But it had to come to an end.
We reached the edge of the wood. I clung on to a fine branch at the top of the final tree, staring at the farmhouse opposite. Far beneath me, Isaac let out a short, sharp chuff, drawing my attention to him. He gestured with his head again, telling me it was time to go back. I nodded to show that I’d understood and then leapt through the treetops, back the way we’d come, until I spied our clothes exactly where we’d left them.
I scurried down to mine. I shifted back and got dressed just before Isaac caught up with me. Given how easily he’d kept up before, I decided he’d let me get ahead this time so I could get into my clothes without having him as an audience. He sat on his haunches and gave me a look that might have meant he wanted to eat me for dinner. I gulped and backed away a little. I was nowhere near as fearless in my human form as when I was a monkey.